Every year, around August or so, the costume catalogs start arriving. You know, the ones with the adorable yet crazy expensive costumes splashed across every glossy page. My kids fight over who gets to look through them first. They circle the ones they’re considering – a Candy Princess for $89.50! A Valkyrie Warrior Girl for $69.50! Over the past three months, there have been 10 costume changes between two of my three children because, bless her heart, my middle kid makes a decision and sticks to it. The conversation around costumes this year went something like this:
Nine-year-old: “I’m going as the Mad Hatter.”
Twelve-year-old: “I need a red tutu for The Queen of Hearts.”
Three-year-old: “I want to be a tiny, baby unicorn.”
Nine-year-old: “I’m still going as the Mad Hatter.”
Twelve-year-old: “Me and J and H are doing a group costume: GI Jane.”
Three-year-old: “I’m going to be a red dinosaur!”
Nine-year-old: “Mad Hatter.”
Twelve-year-old: “Mom! Now J doesn’t want to be GI Jane but H does but I really just want to be The Queen of Hearts! I hate this!”
Three year old: “I love Rapunzel. I want to be Rapunzel!”
Nine-year-old: “Does the Mad Hatter have red hair or orange hair?”
Twelve-year-old: “Okay, J is going as a rock star and H and I are going as opposite matching Minnie Mouses.”
Three-year-old: “I want to be Cinderella. And a cat.”
Then there’s the decorating. Sure, I strung up some fake autumn foliage across our front door and pulled out the light up spider and friendly looking black cat, but we didn’t even carve our pumpkins. If you must know, we didn’t even go to a pumpkin patch this year. Between soccer games and a nasty, fever-laced cold taking down the kids one by one, it just didn’t happen. I ended up buying them up at a Dad’s Club fundraiser going on during one of the soccer games.
Let’s talk about the candy. I did manage to buy five bags of all my favorites before they sold out at Target but guess what? I ate it. Not all of it, but a lot of it. And I snuck it as if no one would notice that half the Twix are missing from the economy size bag. I’m not even sure there’ll be enough for the kids who come by. Thank goodness the most popular trick-or-treating hub is one street over.
I thought I’d be more wound up about this lack of Halloween perfection. Instead, I couldn’t care less what the kids dress up as or what that costume looks like. I don’t care that the pumpkins aren’t carved. I’m praying that we run out of candy by 6:30. Then we can switch off the lights and watch a movie. What in the name of all that is spooky is wrong with me?
Nothing. In fact, I’m thinking everything’s right. It’s such a relief to let go of wanting to make everything Pinterest perfect, knowing it won’t be and feeling crappy about it. The best thing is, my kids don’t seem in the least bit put out by my lack of enthusiasm. My two older girls have figured out their costumes and the younger one is wearing cat ears with her Cinderella dress.
This afternoon, I got an email from my friend Debbie back east who was struggling with her own version of Halloween perfection:
I wish we could all take a page out of our parents’ playbook – not a full page, maybe just a quarter page – where it is ok if not everything is done to perfection. Why can’t we just use a sharpie and draw the faces on the pumpkins if you don’t have time to cut them? Did our parents really come to every single assembly or parade we were ever in? Our kids will probably not be as crushed as we imagine they will be. I know we do a lot of these things as parents because at least in my case I don’t feel like my parents prioritized us kids very much… So I do understand my desire to make things fun for my kids, but some days I just don’t have it in me.
A few hours later, she sent me this:
This week’s sentence is “One Halloween, I…”